Then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, at the Public Services Card Centre, D’Olier House in Dublin after he registered for a Public Services Card (PSC) with the Department of Social Protection on September 8, 2016
Cianan Brennan, in The Irish Examiner, reports that Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe was briefed on Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon’s interim report on the Public Services Card a year ago.
This is despite him telling RTÉ last Friday that he had been briefed by his officials on the report’s “key points” that morning.
Ms Dixon’s report found that there is no legal basis for anyone to have to present a Public Services Card in respect of any transaction between a person and a public body outside the Department of Employment and Social Protection.
She also ordered that the supporting information that the 3.2 million card holders had to hand over in order to get their card – such as utility bills, proof of ID, etc – and held by the department must now be deleted as it was unlawfully held.
It’s interesting to note comments made by Mr Donohoe after he apparently saw the report:
On September 25, 2018 he said:
“During 2017 and over the course of this year, my Department and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have worked with a number of specified bodies to integrate the PSC and MyGovID, into their processes in order to improve access to and the security of public services.
“Currently, the PSC and MyGovID underpin access to social welfare entitlements, first time adult passport applications, citizenship applications, Revenue services, SUSI grants, driving licence and driver theory test applications.
“During the rest of this year and 2019, access to more public services will be underpinned by the PSC and MyGovID. My Department along with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is engaging with the relevant Departments to assist with the transition of services in line with the schedule set out in the eGovernment Strategy 2017-2020.”
“I listened to Deputy [Éamon] Ó Cuív’s comments about the need to simplify the tax code and the sharing of information between Departments, which is what underpins the public service cards.
“I agree with his point that if a citizen supplies information to the State, particularly when it is created by the State in the first place and then made available to the citizen, it should not be the case that the citizen must supply the same information to multiple agencies.
“It is a fair point and it is why the work is under way in the SAFE 2 process, where citizens who must provide information to the State receive a single digital identity which, once it is has been provided, is used by the State to ensure information is available to all Departments more quickly than it is now.”
Meanwhile, separately, before Mr Donohoe would have seen the report, on March 22, 2018, Mr Donohoe told the Dáil the following:
“I want to reiterate to the House that we have the highest level of protection in place to ensure that citizens’ information and private data are safe, secure and stored and regulated in accordance with data protection law.
“I am aware of the issues of concern that were raised in the second half of last year. That is why we have published the document I referred to a moment ago on the website of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
“It explains to citizens how we are handling the various issues of concern. We have responded, and will continue to respond, to any matters of public concern and any observations or views that the Data Protection Commissioner may have.
“We are dealing with matters of concern for the public, and that is why we have tried to communicate what the benefits are.
“At a time when there are such legitimate concerns about how we protect our digital identity and make sure information that people share is securely protected I would have thought that the rationale for the public services card has actually grown rather than been diminished.”
Previously: Your Card Has Been Declined